Cruise Line Duties and the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was enacted in 1990 to protect people with medical conditions in the same way as other laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, and other characteristics. The sweeping legislation sets standards for accessibility in public places and requires private businesses to make reasonable accommodations to support those with disabilities. The ADA does apply to cruise ships via rules and regulations established by the US Department of Transportation (DOT). Vessels that use US ports or sail in US waters must comply with the accessibility standards, including any cruise in or out of Miami. 

Even if you are familiar with some of the basics of ADA, the statute is different when you are on board a ship traveling through unpredictable seas and carrying thousands of other passengers. Plus, cruise lines have been inconsistent with their efforts to enable reasonable accommodations, potentially leading to serious injuries. Consult with a Miami cruise ship accident lawyer to learn more about your rights, but some background is informative.

Accessible Cabins

You may not spend significant time in your stateroom as you enjoy attractions, amenities, and shore excursions, but you expect an accessible cabin. There are three types available on cruise liners:

  • Fully accessible cabins, which means the doorways must be at least 32 inches wide to allow passage for wheelchairs;
  • Accessible cabins with a single side approach that offers clear floor space between beds and furniture; and,
  • Ambulatory accessible cabins that accommodate those with mobility restrictions but who do not rely on a wheelchair or scooter.

Alert and Warning Systems

Cruise companies must also implement accommodations for passengers with hearing and visibility disabilities. This is an especially critical requirement for safety features, alerts, and evacuation plans when the crew is giving instructions. A common measure is using flashing lights or alarms in place of knocking on a door.

Service Animals 

Cruise lines typically prohibit emotional support animals and therapy dogs on board, but service animals with proper credentials may be allowed. These animals must have all vaccinations and related records to ensure they are not a threat to other passengers.

How Violations Affect Passengers

A cruise ship that is not ADA-compliant creates hassles, delays, and disappointment for a passenger with a disability, but there are also significant safety risks. For instance:

  • When placed in a cabin without proper accessibility, the person cannot exit the stateroom in the event of an emergency.
  • A person with hearing or vision limitations would not receive important notifications from the crew about where to muster or evacuation routes.
  • If a passenger requires a service animal, there must be facilities for its comfort as well.

Set Up a Free Consultation with a Miami Cruise Ship Accidents Attorney

For personalized details about your rights and remedies, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA, right away. We can schedule a no-cost case review at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL. After learning more about your situation, a South Florida cruise ship accident lawyer can explain how the ADA applies.

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